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Today, the US Postal Service (USPS) released the "Top Dog Bite Cities" - a list of the nation's most common dog attack locales. Houston, Texas tops the list with 62 letter carriers attacked in 2010. San Diego, CA and Columbus, OH came in second and third with a total of 45 postal carrier bites in each city, while Los Angeles came in a not-so-distant fourth with 44 attacks. A little surprisingly was Louisville, KY who ranked fifth with 40 bites and San Antonio, TX with thirty. Cleveland, OH and Phoenix, AZ ranked 8th and 9th the national attacks with 38 in each city. These findings were released in recognition of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which falls on May 15–21 of this year. On a national level, a total of 5,669 postal employees were attacked in more than 1,400 cities.  But when you look at the total average, that's not so bad. Dogs bite over 4.7 million Americans nationally - but less than 1 percent of those bitten are postal workers.

“We often hear two comments relating to the Postal Service, ‘the check’s in the mail,’ and ‘don’t worry, my dog won’t bite’. Given the right circumstances, any dog can bite. Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem,” said Matthew Lopez, Houston Postmaster. “Working with animal behavior experts, we’ve developed tips to avoid dog attacks, and for dog owners, tips for practicing responsible pet ownership.” The top ten dog-bite cities are listed here (click here for a complete list):

Rank City State # of Bites
1 Houston TX 62
2 San Diego CA 45
3 Columbus OH 45
4 Los Angeles CA 44
5 Louisville KY 40
6 San Antonio TX 39
7 St. Louis MO 39
8 Cleveland OH 38
9 Phoenix AZ 38
10 Minneapolis MN 35

While we know the risks that city, state and federal employees are forced to deal with each day, what is more important about this report is preventing dog attacks before they happen.

“Half of all children will be bitten by a dog by the time they’re high school seniors,” said Dr. John Fraser, of the Texas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “It’s so important for parents to supervise young children around dogs at all times, and it's just as important for children to be taught from an early age how to keep from being bitten.”

As responsible pet owners, it's our task to ensure our pets are well-cared for and under control at all times. Below is a list of ways that we can accomplish this.

  • Make sure your pets are licensed, spayed/neutered and current on vaccinations. Oftentimes, a reason for biting is because the animal is sick or in physical pain. Being a responsible caretaker means keeping pets healthy.
  • Obedience training can help any caretaker understand their pets. Some dogs just don't play well with others. If you have a pet who prefers to avoid crowds, listen to them.
  • Don't leave your pets alone for long periods of time. Dogs are social animals and do best when they are with their "pack." Whether you have one pet or twelve, it's important to allow regular interaction with you and your family. Keeping dogs tethered or confined for long periods of time can create "biters".
  • A dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch prey, so don't become prey. Avoid running from a dog, and never approach a pet that is tethered or confined.
  • Keep your pets leashed and never approach a dog that is leashed without permission from the owner. Whether the dog is a working or service animal, or just needs to feel a little more secure, it's never a good idea to approach an animal on a leash without express permission. This includes lowering your hand to 'brush past" the dog.
  • If an attack is imminent, do your best to place something between you and the dog. Anything from an umbrella to a backpack can be an effective deterrent.
  • When people come to your home, keep animal secured. Oftentimes, you don't know how a dog will react to an individual until it's too late. Dogs can be protective of their terrirtory and may interpret the actions of others in a way that is threatening.
  • Train children on how to approach animals. Never allow your children, or anyone else's children, to run towards your dog. The sudden movement can often startle an animal, and a pet that otherwise would never bite, may do so when startled.

“Dog bite prevention education cannot begin early enough,” said Kelly Voigt, 19, the victim of a savage dog attack when she was seven years old. She endured the pain of 100 stitches to her face as part of her recovery The experience was the catalyst behind the creation of Prevent The Bite, a non-profit organization that promotes dog bite prevention to young children. To date, Voigt has spoken before more than 10,000 elementary school students. To help educate the public about dog bites, the AVMA developed an online brochure:  www.avma.org/press/publichealth/dogbite/mediakit.asp. The AVMA also maintains a dog bite prevention facebook page. National Dog Bite Prevention Week® is a registered trademark of the American Veterinary Medical Association and is licensed for use to the United States Postal Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery.

stacymantlestacymantle
Author: stacymantle
About the Author

Stacy Mantle is a freelance writer who currently resides in the southwestern deserts of Arizona with a few dogs, several cats, and a very understanding husband. She is a regular contributor to Pet Age Magazine, Catster, Animal Behavior College, and of course, PetsWeekly. Many of her stories and articles have been translated into several languages, and now reach an international audience. She is also the author of a bestselling urban fantasy/thriller, Shepherd's Moon; a humor book entitled, Conquering the Food Chain: Living Amongst Animals (Without Becoming One), and a line of Educational Activity Books for children.


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